The Must Of American Grapes

If we examine the must of most of our American wine grapes closely, we

find that they not only contain an excess of acids in inferior seasons,

but also a superabundance of flavor or aroma, and of tannin and

coloring matter. Especially of flavor, there is such an abundance that,

were the quantity doubled by addition of sugar and water, there would

still be an abundance; and with some varieties, such as the Concord, if

fermented on the husks, it is so strong as to be disagreeable. We must,

therefore, not only ameliorate the acid, but also the flavor and the

astringency, of which the tannin is the principal cause. Therefore it

is, that to us the knowledge of how to properly gallize our wines is

still more important than to the European vintner, and the results

which we can realize are yet more important. By a proper management, we

can change must, which would otherwise make a disagreeable wine, into

one in which everything is in its proper proportion, and which will

delight the consumer, to whose fastidious taste if would otherwise have

been repugnant. True, we have here a more congenial climate, and the

grapes will generally ripen better, so that we can in most seasons

produce a drinkable wine. But if we can increase the quantity, and at

the same time improve the quality, there is certainly an inducement,

which the practical business sense of our people will not fail to

appreciate and make use of.

There is, however, one difficulty in the way. I do not believe that the

acidimeter can yet be obtained in the country, and we must import them

direct from the manufacturers, DR. L. C. MARQUART, of Bonn, on the

Rhine; or J. DIEHN, Frankfort-on-the-Main.

However, this difficulty will soon be overcome; and, indeed, although

it is impossible to practice gallizing without a saccharometer, we may

get at the surplus of acids with tolerable certainty by the results

shown by the saccharometer. To illustrate this, I will give an example:

Last year was one of the most unfavorable seasons for the ripening of

grapes we have ever had here, and especially the Catawba lost almost

nine-tenths of its crop by mildew and rot; it also lost its leaves, and

the result was, that the grapes did not ripen well. When gathering my

grapes, upon weighing the must, I found that it ranged from 52 deg. to 70 deg.;

whereas, in good seasons, Catawba must weighs from 80 deg. to 95 deg.. I now

calculated thus: if normal must of Catawba should weigh at least 80 deg.,

and the must I have to deal with this season will weigh on an average

only 60 deg., I must add to this must about 1/2 lb. of sugar to bring it up

to 80 deg.. But now I had the surplus acid to neutralize yet. To do this, I

calculated thus: If, even in a normal Catawba must, or a must of the

best seasons, there is yet an excess of acid, I can safely count on

there being at least one-third too much acid in a must that weighs but

60 deg.. I, therefore, added to every 100 gallons of must 40 gallons of

soft water, in which I had first dissolved 80 lbs. of crushed sugar,

which brought the water, when weighed after dissolving the sugar in it,

up to 80 deg.. Now, I had yet to add 50 lbs., or half a pound to each

gallon of the original must, to bring _this_ up to 80 deg.. I thus pressed,

instead of 100 gallons, 150 gallons, from the same quantity of grapes;

and the result was a wine, which every one who has tasted it has

declared to be excellent Catawba. It has a brilliant pale yellow color,

was perfectly clear 1st of January, and sold by me to the first one to

whom I offered it, at a price which I have seldom realized for Catawba

wine made in the best seasons, without addition of sugar or water.

True, it has not as strong an aroma as the Catawba of our best seasons,

nor has it as much astringency; but this latter I consider an

advantage, and it still has abundant aroma to give it character.

Another experiment I made with the Concord satisfied me, without

question, that the must of this grape will always gain by an addition

of water and sugar. I pressed several casks of the pure juice, which,

as the Concord had held its leaves and ripened its fruit very well,

contained sugar enough to make a fair wine, namely, 75 deg.. This I

generally pressed the day after gathering, and put into separate casks.

I then took some must of the same weight, but to which I had added, to

every 100 gallons, 50 gallons of water, in which I had diluted sugar

until the water weighed 75 deg., or not quite two pounds of sugar to the

gallon of water, pressed also after the expiration of the same time,

and otherwise treated in the same manner. Both were treated exactly

alike, racked at the same time; and the result is, that every one who

tries the two wines, without knowing how they have been treated,

prefers the gallized wine to the other--the pure juice of the grape. It

is more delicate in flavor, has less acidity, and a more brilliant

color than the first, the ungallized must. They are both excellent, but

there is a difference in favor of the gallized wine.

DR. GALL recommends grape sugar as the best to be used for the purpose.

This is made from potato starch; but it is hard to obtain here, and I

have found crushed loaf sugar answer every purpose. I think this sugar

has the advantage over grape sugar, that it dissolves more readily, and

can even be dissolved in cold water, thus simplifying the process very

much. It will take about two pounds to the gallon of water to bring

this up to 80 deg., which will make a wine of sufficient body. The average

price of sugar was about 22 cents per pound, and the cost of thus

producing an additional gallon of wine, counting in labor, interest on

capital, etc., will be about 60 cents. When the wine can be sold at

from $2 to $3 per gallon, the reader will easily perceive of what

immense advantage this method is to the grape-grower, if he can thereby

not only improve the quality, but also increase the quantity of the


The efforts made by the Commissioner of Patents, and the contributors

to the annual reports from the Patent Office, to diffuse a general

knowledge of this process, can therefore not be commended too highly.

It will help much to bring into general use, among all classes, good,

pure, native wines; and as soon as ever the poorer classes can obtain

cheap agreeable wines, the use of bad whiskey and brandy will be

abandoned more and more, and this nation will become a more temperate


But this is only the first step. There is a way to still further

increase the quantity. DR. GALL and others found, by analyzing the

husks of the grape after the juice had been extracted by powerful

presses, that they not only still contained a considerable amount of

juice, but also a great amount of extracts, or wine-making principles,

in many instances sufficient for three times the bulk of the juice

already expressed. This fact suggested the question: As there are so

many of these valuable properties left, and only sugar and water

exhausted, why cannot these be substituted until the others are

completely exhausted? It was found that the husks still contained

sufficient of acids, tannin, aroma, coloring matter, and gluten. All

that remained to be added was water and sugar. It was found that this

could be easily done; and the results showed that wine made in this

manner was equal, if not superior, to some of that made from the

original juice, and was often, by the best judges, preferred to that

made from the original must.

I have also practiced this method extensively the last season; and the

result is, that I have fully doubled the amount of wine of the Norton's

Virginia and Concord. I have thus made 2,500 gallons of Concord, where

I had but 1,030 gallons of original must; and 2,600 gallons of Norton's

Virginia, where I had but 1,300 gallons of must. The wines thus made

were kept strictly separate from those made from the original juice,

and the result is, that many of them are better, and none inferior, to

the original must; and although I have kept a careful diary of

wine-making, in which I have noted the process how each cask was made,

period of fermentation on the husks, quantity of sugar used, etc., and

have not hesitated to show this to every purchaser after he had tasted

of the wine, they generally, and with very few exceptions, chose those

which had either been gallized in part, or entirely.

My method in making such wines was very simple. I generally took the

same quantity of water, the husks had given original must, or in other

words, when I had pressed 100 gallons of juice, I took about 80 gallons

of water. To make Concord wine, I added 1-3/4 lbs. of sugar to the

gallon, as I calculated upon some sugar remaining in the husks, which

were not pressed entirely dry. This increased the quantity, with the

juice yet contained in the husks to 100 gallons, and brought the water

to 70; calculating that from 5 deg. to 10 deg. still remained in the husks, it

would give us a must of about 80 deg.. The grapes, as before remarked, had

been gathered during the foregoing day, and were generally pressed in

the morning. As soon as possible the husks were turned into the

fermenting vat again, all pulled apart and broken, and the water added

to them. As the fermentation had been very strong before, it

immediately commenced again. I generally allowed them to ferment for

twenty-four hours, and then pressed again, but pressed as dry as

possible this time. The whole treatment of this must was precisely

similar to that of the original.

In making Norton's Virginia, I would take, instead of 1-3/4 lbs., 2

lbs. of sugar to the gallon--as it is naturally a wine of greater body

than the Concord--and I aimed to come as near to the natural must as

possible. I generally fermented this somewhat longer, as a darker color

was desired. The time of fermentation must vary, of course, with the

state of the atmosphere; in cooler weather, both pressings should

remain longer on the husks. The results, in both varieties were wines

of excellent flavor, good body, a brilliant color, with enough of

tannin or astringency, and sufficient acid--therefore, in every way


The experiments, however, were not confined to these alone, but

extended over a number of varieties, with good results in every case.

Of all varieties tried, however, I found that the Concord would bear

the most of gallizing, without losing its own peculiar flavor; and I

satisfied myself, that the quantity in this grape can safely be

increased _here_, from 100 gallons of must to 250 gallons of wine, and

the quality yet be better, than if the must had been left in its normal


And it is here again where only experience can teach us _how far_ we

can go with a certain variety. It must be clear and apparent to any one

who is ever so slightly acquainted with wine-making, how widely

different the varieties are in their characteristics and ingredients.

We may lay it down as a general rule, however, that our native grapes,

with their strong and peculiar flavors, and their superabundance of

tannin and coloring matter, will admit of much more gallizing, than the

more delicately flavored European kinds.

I have thus tried only to give an outline of the necessary operations,

as well as the principles lying at the foundation of them. I have also

spoken only of facts as I have found them, as I am well aware that this

is a field in which I have much to learn yet, and where it but poorly

becomes me to act the part of teacher. Those desiring more detailed

information, I would refer to the Patent Office Reports of 1859-60,

where they will find valuable extracts from the works of DR. GALL; and

also to the original works.

If we look at the probable effect these methods of improving wines are

likely to have upon grape-culture, it is but natural that we should ask

the question: Is there anything reprehensible in the practice--any

reason why it should not become general? The answer to this is very

simple. They contain nothing which the fermented grape juice, in its

purest and most perfect state does not also contain. Therefore, they

are as pure as any grape juice can be, with the consideration in their

favor, that everything is in the right proportion. Therefore, if wine

made from pure grape juice can be recommended for general use, surely,

the gallized wines can also be recommended. DR. GALL has repeatedly

offered to pay a fine for the benefit of the poor, if the most critical

chemical analysis could detect anything in them, which was injurious to

health, or which pure wines ought not to contain, and his opponents

have always failed to show anything of the kind.

I know that some of my wine-making friends will blame me for thus

"letting the cat out of the bag." They seem to think that it would be

better to keep the knowledge we have gained, to ourselves, carefully

even hiding the fact that any of our wines have been gallized. But it

has always been a deep-seated conviction with me, that knowledge and

truth, like God's sun should be the common property of all His

children--and that it is the duty of every one not to "hide his light

under a bushel," but seek to impart it to all, who could, perhaps, be

benefitted by it. And why, in reality, should we seek to keep as a

secret a practice which is perfectly right and justifiable? If there is

a prejudice against it, (and we know there is), this is not the way to

combat it. Only by meeting it openly, and showing the fallacy of it,

can we hope to convince the public, that there is nothing wrong about

it. Truth and justice need never fear the light--they can only gain

additional force from it. I do not even attempt to sell a cask of

gallized wine, before the purchaser is made fully acquainted with the

fact, that it has been gallized.

It is a matter of course, that many, who go to work carelessly and

slovenly, will fail to make good wine, in this or any other way. To

make a good article, the nature of each variety and its peculiarities

must be closely studied--we must have as ripe grapes as we can get,

carefully gathered; and we need not think that water and sugar will

accomplish _everything_. There is a limit to everything, and to

gallizing as well as to anything else. As soon as we pass beyond that

limit, an inferior product will be the result.

But let us glance a moment at the probable influence this discovery

will have on American grape culture. It cannot be otherwise than in the

highest degree beneficial; for when we simply look at grape-culture as

it was ten years ago, with the simple product of the Catawba as its

basis; a variety which would only yield an average of, say 200 gallons

to the acre--often very inferior wine--and look at it to-day, with such

varieties as the Concord, yielding an average of from 1,000 to 1,500

gallons to the acre, which we can yet easily double by gallizing, thus

in reality yielding an average of 2,500 gallons to the acre of

uniformly good wine; can we be surprised if everybody talks and thinks

of raising grapes? Truly, the time is not far distant--of which we

hardly dared to dream ten years ago--and which we _then_ thought we

would never live to see; when _every_ American citizen can indulge in a

daily glass of that glorious gift of God to man, pure, light wine; and

the American nation shall become a really _temperate_ people.

And there is room for all. Let every one further the cause of

grape-culture. The laborer by producing the grapes and wine; the

mechanic by inventions; the law-giver by making laws furthering its

culture, and the consumption of it; and _all_ by drinking wine, in wise

moderation of course.

The Concord The Must Scale Or Saccharometer facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail